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Wild Oats XI wins Big Boat Challenge

AAP logoAAP 13/12/2016 Adrian Warren

Wild Oats XI has won a ninth Big Boat challenge as one of her supermaxi rivals narrowly avoided a collision at the start.

The eight times Sydney to Hobart line honours winner headed the seven-boat fleet home in one hour, four minutes and 14 seconds.

She finished three minutes and 11 seconds ahead of Perpetual LOYAL, with a third supermaxi, Scallywag, just over five minutes back in third.

Scallywag came perilously close to hitting a NSW Maritime vessel and Sydney ferry at the start.

Asked how he avoided a collision, Scallywag skipper David Witt said "we spun the roulette wheel and come up with zero, we were very very lucky.

"You'd expect a boat with maritime written on the side of it would actually get out of the way."

It wasn't a perfect day's sailing for Wild Oats XI, who trailed Perpetual LOYAL going around the first mark, but powered past her once it sorted out a spinnaker issue.

"We had a bit of problem at the top mark with our spinnaker, we couldn't unfurl it, so that was a bit of a drama for the guys," Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards said.

"But once we got it unfurled the boat was really quick downwind so that was obviously very encouraging.

"But upwind LOYAL was definitely the boat of the day for sure."

Perpetual LOYAL skipper-owner Anthony Bell was extremely heartened by his boat's performance.

"We didn't break anything for once in the race so it was a cheaper day out than we're used to having," said Bell, who was forced to retire the boat from the last two Sydney Hobart races.

"We're pleased with what we achieved today.

"Today was faultless for us."

Bell's regular crew has been supplemented by around half the crew from last year's Sydney Hobart line honours winner Comanche, which isn't contesting the 2016 race.

The only 2016 Sydney to Hobart supermaxi not to race on Tuesday was Ludde Ingvall's CQS.

Chinese Whisper, the smallest yacht in the Big Boat Challenge fleet and one of the favourites for handicap honours in the Sydney-Hobart classic, was overall winner on Tuesday.

Rupert Henry's JV 62 finished ahead of the 80-foot Beau Geste and Wild Oats XI.

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